Woolly thinking on assessment

29th September 2006 at 01:00
Congratulations to future English, science and history A-level students. In these subjects they will continue to have opportunities to demonstrate a broad range of their capabilities. Those attainments best assessed through coursework will complement those tested in formal examinations.

As a result, these students' results will be fairer. As a bonus, they are also likely to experience more interesting courses and the skills they develop through coursework will prepare them well for university study and future employment.

What is unclear is why the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority considers internal assessment can be made to work in a few select disciplines but not in others. Why is coursework an acceptable form of assessment for scientific and historical enquiry, but not for geographical enquiry?

Or does the QCA consider plagiarism to be more likely in geography than in English, or teachers less competent to prevent it? This is an arbitrary decision with no clear educational rationale that owes little to the real needs of students.

Dr John Hopkin

Chair, education committee Geographical Association

Sheffield

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